A business partner of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff who participated in a scheme that bilked a group of Native American tribes out of $20 million was ordered today to serve 20 months in federal prison under a plea deal that recognized his extensive cooperation with the government.
Justice Department lawyers urged Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of Washington's federal trial court to sentence the defendant, Michael Scanlon, to two years in prison for his role in the conspiracy.
Citing Scanlon’s “extraordinary” cooperation, Huvelle sentenced Scanlon to 20 months and to three years of supervised release. Scanlon was the first government cooperator in a public corruption probe that has netted 20 guilty pleas or convictions. Yesterday, a jury in Washington found former House staffer Fraser Verrusio guilty of accepting illegal gratuities from a lobbyist who wanted to curry favor for a client.
Huvelle said she hopes the sentence promotes respect for the law. She said Scanlon’s crimes struck at the public confidence in the integrity of the government. In addition to the fraud conspiracy, Scanlon was charged with participation in a scheme in which he and lobbyist co-defendants provided trips, campaign contributions, meals and entertainment to public officials.
A Criminal Division prosecutor, Nathaniel Edmonds of the fraud section, said Scanlon was the first defendant to plead guilty and assist the government. Edmonds said the help Scanlon provided, starting with his guilty plea in 2005, was “critical” in unraveling the scheme. More background on the case here from the Justice Department. Click here , here and here for earlier coverage of Abramoff and Scanlon.
Lawyers for Scanlon, Ropes & Gray litigation partner Stephen Braga and Plato Cacheris of Washington’s Trout Cacheris, urged Huvelle to punish Scanlon through a combination of home confinement and supervised release. Cooperation, Braga insisted, is key to white-collar investigations. “You need someone on the inside,” he said.
Braga said Scanlon, who works in real estate development, won’t be able to find employment in politics or public relations. He attributed that to the stigma of having served as a government informant.
Addressing Huvelle, Scanlon said he is sorry and full of remorse. Scanlon must report to federal prison authorities within 60 days.